As with probably ninety percent of people on this website my story starts with,"I've always wanted to do a triathlon..." I hit a breaking point which inspired me to get into shape: 300 lbs. I was officially fat. I became one of those middle aged men who used to be in such good shape, but now because of lackluster excuses like sedentary work, marriage, mortgage...whatever, I was out of shape. I was still pretty active-whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding; but I realized I was getting exhausted long before I should be. I would pay fifty dollars for an all day ski-lift ticket and be completely worn out in just two hours...pathetic. It was August of last year that I told myself I was going to do a triathlon before the summer was over and it was the '11th hour'. No more excuses.
So after a little online research, I found a mini-sprint with three weeks to spare. Now before you think, "Sheesh, a mini-sprint? Lame" think about being 300 lbs with three weeks to train for it. I registered as soon as I found it so I couldn't back out. I knew this would be the first step in a long trip to getting back in shape. So I trained. At first, I could barely run a half mile, bike five miles, and swim a hundred yards. But I kept training and after a week and a half I could jog a mile, biking became easier, and I started swimming the race distance non-stop. By race day, three weeks later, I had lost twenty pounds and was so excited to race.
I woke up at 5:30am, and after a small bowl of frosted flakes and two trips to the bathroom, I stepped outside and realized how cold it was. I drove the hour commute down to the venue and saw frost on the ground! After setting up, I had to walk from the transition area to the pool barefoot, on the frosty grass, because I didn't think to bring sandals or flip-flops. Fortunately, the pool was nice and warm, like 70+ degrees and I was able to stand in the little overflow gutters and warm my piggies up.
Time to race! I gave my jacket to my wife and got in line. It was a serpent course through the pool with five second intervals. I was second in the "I'm not a professional, but I know how to swim" group. This was a family triathlon for any age - including kids, seniors, and 'clydesdales' like me, so the atmosphere was real friendly and fun. I hopped in the water...go time. I caught up to the lady in front of me pretty fast. I was just gonna keep her pace but the guy behind me was about to pass us, so I just went for it and passed her. I got out of the pool a little more tired than I expected and was quickly reminded by how cold it was. I kept thinking, "What if I forgot something at the transition area, I guess this would be a short race for me." But everything was there, and out on the bike I went.
Freaking Brrrr!!!! Still dripping from the swim in my recreational swimming trunks, I thought, "No way can I do this bike without freezing something off!" But the course got out in the sun and eventually I dried enough to where it wasn't so uncomfortable. I felt good and at first passing a couple people. Then a couple people passed me. They were skinny-fit people so it didn't bother me too much. Then, on one of the turns, I hit a big gash in the asphalt and the bike started acting horrible. I only figured out why later (I dented the rim causing the brakes to abruptly catch and release real bad on every revolution) but I felt I had to take it easy to finish without the bike falling apart on me mid-race. I honestly thought, "Would they let me race if I ran with the bike instead of pedaling on it?" As long as I kept moving forward, I was good.
The bike held together and, after a very quick transition, I was jogging. Very slowly. My normal pace, technically, but very slow compared to everyone that was passing me. But I was determined to finish the whole run without walking as tough as it was for me. My wife later told me that you could tell just by the expression of anguish on my face and slow speed that I was struggling. Then, all of the sudden, there was the finish. I thought, "Final turn, there's the finish line, maybe I could pick up the pace for the finish?" Nope. I just slowly jogged across as it was all I could muster. Overall I finished 27th out of 40, but because not many other guys were in my division, I finished first in division!
So I finally did a triathlon. Nothing impressive, I know, but I'm looking forward to next year to do a full length sprint and, hopefully longer lengths in time. That's my story!
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